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Break My Soul: Beyoncé’s new release makes me hungry for more

Beyonce Instagram
By
22 June 2022
S

urprise! Beyoncé’s back! Although, by her typical, stringent privacy standards, when it comes to releasing new music, announcing her album with six weeks’ notice, as she did last Thursday, is basically the equivalent of her going round her fans’ houses and telling them to have their Tidal accounts primed and ready.

And so, in many ways, it comes as a blessed relief that Beyoncé is giving us a bit more warning this time round. There’s a slow-cooked, underrated joy to the anticipation that gathers in the weeks leading up to a release — and her first single, the eminently danceable Break My Soul, is proof of what effect just one song can have to get things started (lyrics telling us to “Release your job/Release the time” mark Bey out as a new leader of The Great Resignation, according to a very excitable Twitter).

And we’ve already been chucked some intriguing scraps of info about the album: will it be a big Nineties throwback? Will it have some rootin-tootin country songs on there, as has been rumoured? Will it be a grand, multi-stage masterpiece, as the subtitle of Renaissance, “Act I”, seems to suggest?

But even if Queen Bey, Patron Saint of the Surprise Album, had dropped her long-awaited seventh record without so much as a whisper beforehand, it wouldn’t have been a shock. Why? Well, she’s only got herself to blame.

In 2011, Beyoncé’s album 4 leaked onto the internet a month early. Determined to never let it happen again, she put her creative process into lockdown. Then one December night in 2013, a new, 66-minute opus arrived without warning. Surprise!

It was a cloak-and-dagger masterpiece; codenames, impenetrable inner circles and false public statements all helped. It was a huge success and generated such an almighty hoo-ha that other megastars followed suit.

The long-form album release process — initial announcement, singles, press interviews — has increasingly become an anachronism. But the who-saw-that-coming method has grown into such a trope over the past decade or so that these surprises have become distinctly unsurprising.

Surprises may still be afoot, but at this point, it seems as if she’s doing things the old-fashioned way — and all we have to do is sit back and get hyped.

After all, good things come to those who wait.

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